Energy and Mood

3 Foods that Deplete Your Energy (and Some Quick Herbal Fixes)

Did you know that certain foods can actually deplete your daily supply of energy? It’s true! If you wake up feeling lethargic, tired or zapped of energy before your day gets going, it’s time to find out what might be causing it and how to put some quick herbal fixes to work for you. There are three kinds of foods that cause you to feel tired, moody and create the feeling of a ‘foggy’ brain. Eliminate these ingredients from your eating list and you’ll finally get the energy reboot you’ve been looking for.

Saturated Fats

You can find saturated fats everywhere. They are in eggs, dairy products, pork, beef, dark chicken meat, and dark turkey food selections. These fats require excess energy from the body to digest, and this causes diversion of blood flow from the muscles to the stomach. Also, saturated fats contribute to high cholesterol levels, which can lead to fatty deposits in arteries and blood vessels. To avoid restriction of blood flow and low levels of oxygenation to the muscles, pass on the saturated fats.

Refined Sugars

Found in pastries, candies, cookies, and soft drinks, refined sugars are quickly converted to glucose when consumed. This gives you a temporary energy spike, but an energy crash is right around the corner. To avoid feeling lethargic and tired, avoid refined sugars which also cause a decrease in mental clarity.

Refined Flours

Refined flours include breads, pastries, pies, doughnuts, cakes, and snack crackers. These flours are made from heavily processed grains. During the refining process, the complex carbohydrates in the grains are turned into simple carbohydrates. Your body rapidly converts the simple forms of carbohydrates into glucose. While that may sound like it would give you energy, in reality, the short burst of energy you get from refined flours is followed by a long bout of fatigue. What’s more, refined flours require extensive digestion, using more energy than those that come from whole-grain products.

Herbal Remedies to Increase Energy

Ashwagandha – Also called winter cherry, ashwagandha is an herbal remedy that is used for restorative purposes. This supplement can strengthen your immune system, give you more sexual stamina, and increase vitality. Many use it as a tea and enjoy the anti-inflammatory properties. Korean Ginseng – It is no secret that ginseng helps with libido. What many people may not know, however, is that Korean ginseng root also wards off fatigue and revitalizes the body after injury or illness. Also called red panax, this form of ginseng improves work efficiency, increases blood flow, improves athletic performance, and enhances physical stamina. Take it as a tea or by capsule form. Gotu Kola – Another Ayurvedic herbal remedy for increasing energy is gotu kola. This can be taken as a tonic or capsule form. It strengthens muscles by building proteins that the body requires for exercise. Also, it helps you recover your energy after bouts of the cold or flu. Guarana – A South American flowering plant that is used by Brazilians is guarana. This natural remedy contains caffeine, so it gives you a boost of energy. According to researchers, guarana stimulates the adrenal glands to promote diuresis and blood flow to the muscles and organs. Licorice Root – Used by Native Americans, this herbal product stimulates adrenaline production in your body, thus giving you energy. Many choose licorice because it also regulates blood glucose levels, which gives you a steady flow of energy at all times. Because the body adapts to this substance, experts advise only using licorice short term.  

Article Resources:
Balch PA (2010). Prescription of Nutritional Healing. Mills S (1994)
The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine Reavley N (1999).
The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs.

6 Natural Ways to Glow With Energy

One of life’s greatest complaints (other than scarcity of time) is lack of energy. We will all find ourselves in a state of lethargy at some point, depleted of vital energy with a variety of potential causes. Feeling worn-out? Skip the stimulants and beat fatigue with these natural energy therapies.

Drink Up!

Water is our number one essential life force, and many of us simply do not get enough of it. Water helps to carry nutrients to the cells and function optimally, so when the body isn’t getting enough, systems can slow down. The result: sluggish irritability and an overall lack of liveliness. At the first sign of a slump, drink a glass of water. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it can help you perk up.

Stand up straight.

This allusion to posture may remind you of a nagging childhood cliché, but in this case, it has proven effects on energy levels. When we operate in a slouched fashion, we embody a physical presence of frailty, creating unstable muscle alignment that results in the body consuming more energy in order to stay vertical. Upright posture reflects a balance within the body, where joints and muscles are united so that they rest effortlessly onto one another.

Optimize digestion.

When it comes to energy levels, the gut is so important. The digestive system is connected to virtually everything that happens within the body and can contribute to a host of common health problems, all of which contribute to a drain on energy levels. Nutrient absorption can also be affected, meaning the body is not getting an adequate supply of fuel to its cells. Eat whole, organic and unprocessed foods, paying close attention to potential food intolerances. Probiotics will also help to maximize good intestinal flora and optimize digestive health.

Step into the light.

The sun provides a great source of vitamin D, which is a hormone produced in the skin via energy from UVB rays. This study explores how vitamin D is thought to impact energy levels—by optimizing cell mitochondria and therefore, muscle function. We have become a sun-phobic society, growing largely deficient in this important nutrient. In small doses (5-15 minutes a day), sun exposure provides a healthy dosage of vitamin D and can positively impact energy levels.

Get Moving!

By moving the body regularly, you will optimize cardiovascular health, allowing for efficient blood circulation that increases the body’s oxygen intake. When the body is properly oxygenated, it can best utilize all energy sources. Exercise also activates the production of endorphins, body chemicals that are often referred to as “natural painkillers.”  Similar to the effects of opiates, endorphins create a natural pleasurable state within the body, one that translates to an increase in energy levels.

Stay present and smile.

Energy, by its very nature, is a present time substance. By maintaining a mind-body connection rooted in the here and now, you can create a powerful platform on which to best maximize and maintain current physical energy levels. In addition to the power of this mind-body connection, the simple act of smiling has been found to positively impact the body’s dopamine response, evoking a mild euphoric feeling and improved sense of purpose and drive in daily activities. One of the keys to having more energy is to understand it’s all about the big picture. Energy naturally moves, shifts and expresses itself via many channels. If you can open these channels, it will ignite a spark that can have an incredibly powerful impact on your overall flow.

Article Resources:
psychcentral.com/news/2012/10/16/poor-posture-can-affect-mood-energy/46112.html www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-digestive-system_b_313247.html www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/vitamin-d-proven-to-boost-energy-from-within-the-cells .www.everydayhealth.com/fitness/basics/get-fit-for-life.aspx  www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression  www.scientificamerican.com/article/smile-it-could-make-you-happier/

Healthy Ways to Increase Energy Levels with Natural Supplements

With a quick look around any supermarket, it’s obvious energy boosters are big business. Energy drinks, bars, powdered additives, and supplements line the shelves. In fact, energy drinks alone are about a $9 billion per year industry, with U.S. sales increasing 16 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to TIME. Many energy supplements are high in sugar, making them unhealthy options for a quick boost and prone to triggering subsequent crashes in blood glucose and energy levels. If you need a shot of energy during the day, certain natural supplements provide healthier, longer-lasting alternatives.

Fuel Up with Caffeine

Caffeine is famous for increasing energy and enhancing alertness. You don’t have to get it from a cup of coffee or a pricey venti, triple-shot, two percent caramel macchiato, though. Green tea is a natural source of caffeine that also offers potent antioxidant polyphenols (including EGCG) and a wide variety of scientifically supported health benefits. Guarana, yerba mate, and kola nut are other natural sources of caffeine. When using this compound to dial up your energy levels, remember its potential to interfere with your night’s rest. Taking this supplement in the evening can cause difficulty falling asleep. This in turn takes a toll on your energy and alertness the next day.

Perk Up The Body and Mind with Oat Straw 

Everyone knows oatmeal provides lots of dietary fiber and can help lower cholesterol, but many aren’t familiar with oat straw. This doesn’t refer to the well-known ripened oat grains, but to the green, unripe oat plant often sold as Avena sativa. Liquid extract, teas, powders, tinctures, and other preparations are often marketed to enhance sexual desire and function and as a diuretic. But oat straw also boosts energy and promotes physical stamina. This all-natural ingredient also has the demonstrated ability to improve cognitive performance. Take a straight supplement, or add the powder to oatmeal and other foods or to water; flavor the drink with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice.

Spice Things Up with Asian Ginseng

The Asian ginseng root has long been a popular supplement for boosting immune system function. As the University of Maryland Medical Center reports, the herb does provide this benefit, as well as antioxidant action. But ginseng also raises energy level and enhances alertness. Use Asian ginseng to combat fatigue, to increase physical endurance, and to give your mental performance a push in the right direction. Add the herb as a healthful and flavorful ingredient when cooking, drink it in tea, or take it in a liquid extract or powdered form.

Remedy Underlying Nutritional Deficiencies

If you just can’t seem to get going at full steam, a nutritional deficiency might be the culprit. Increasing your intake of the vitamin, mineral, amino acid, or other compound in question—with foods rich in the nutrient, a supplemental form, or both—is usually the solution. Your doctor can test for deficiencies and check for contributing underlying health problems. Iron deficiency and vitamin B12 deficiency are more common causes of anemia that sap the body of energy, notes the Mayo Clinic. Other B-complex vitamin deficiencies can also lead to anemia. Too little magnesium, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), creatine, carnitine, phenylalanine, taurine, or tyronsine are likely to cause low energy levels, too.  

Article Resources:
healthland.time.com/2012/08/29/new-york-lawmakers-investigate-energy-drink-claims/ www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/energy-boosters-can-supplements-and-vitamins-help?page=1 umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/asian-ginseng  www.doctoroz.com/videos/oat-straw-fact-sheet online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2010.0143

The Top 5 Natural Foods To Boost Your Energy

When it comes to fighting that morning grogginess or afternoon slump, millions of us wash back a cup of coffee or grab an energy drink. Whatever the beverage of choice, we’re all looking for that magical ingredient caffeine, and the power it instills in us to tackle the day. Sadly, that feeling only lasts for so long until we’re back trying to get our next fix. There’s also a growing segment of energy bars or so-called “power bars.” Packing a decent amount of protein, fiber and carbohydrates, they’re designed to give you an energy boost on the go. However, unless you’re an athlete or train heavily, they add an unnecessary amount of calories to your diet. From The National Council on Strength & Fitness: “The bars may be used as a meal replacement for individuals on the go and may be a better snack choice than a donut or candy bar, but for the average person consuming them, as a supplement to a normal diet, it probably is no better than a daily vitamin.” While caffeine in natural forms such as coffee or green tea can be beneficial for energy levels in moderation, it alone is not a sound strategy. Here are five foods that can help:

Eggs

Eggs are not only a good source of protein, but they also feature nutrients such as iron and B-vitamins, both essential for healthy energy levels. Two to three eggs at breakfast will make for a great start to the day, and if you’re worried about the fat content, it’s okay to have one whole egg followed by a few egg whites. You can also pack hard-boiled eggs in your lunch, and depending on your preference, they taste delicious with salsa.

Fresh Whole Fruit

Fresh fruit is a wonderful solution to your energy woes, and extremely convenient. Here’s a quick list to choose from:

  • Blueberries
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Grapes
  • Blackberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

Leafy Greens

The cartoons of Popeye becoming big and strong after eating spinach may be a bit farfetched, but it along with other leafy green vegetables, can help keep you buzzing along thanks to a high iron content. If spinach isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can also opt for kale, broccoli, cabbage and romaine lettuce for example.

Almonds

Nuts like almonds pack a lot of nutrients in a rather small package, and are also a great source of heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. A couple handfuls is enough, and it’s worth noting that eating too many can definitely add up in the calorie department, which is easy considering how tasty they are. Try to get unsalted almonds if you can, and stay away from those with added sugar.

Water

According to a report published in June 2013, nearly ¾ of Americans are dehydrated, and not getting the recommended eight to 10 cups of water per day. Water is not just important for optimal organ function, but a major ingredient in ensuring nutrients are delivered throughout the body. Hamper the ability for nutrients to be delivered and that leads to fatigue. With every flavor of soda imaginable, it can be tough drinking more water. However, you can make water more enjoyable to drink by adding a squirt of citrus juice such as an orange or lemon.

Article Resources:
miami.cbslocal.com/2013/07/02/chronic-dehydration-more-common-than-you-think/
www.ncsf.org/pdf/ceu/nutrition_bars.pdf

Dragging through the Day? 3 Simple Energy Fixes…

If flagging energy levels are making it tough to get through your day, you’re not alone. Between the stresses of work, tending to our families, and perhaps less-than-optimal habits, fatigue is a common complaint amongst people from all walks of life. While we may not be able to alter our daily schedules exactly to our liking, we can do a great deal to boost our energy, and move through the day with greater ease. Higher energy levels make us feel happier, allow us to work with greater efficiency, less stressed out, and loads of other good stuff. Here are just a few quick fixes that will give you the boost you need when you feel like you are running on empty.

Stimulating Breath

Our breath is a great ally in promoting well-being. There are breathing exercises that calm us and reduce stress, as well as those that reinvigorate, and increase our energy levels. The Stimulating Breath, which is based on a yogic breathing technique, is perfect for increasing alertness, and fighting fatigue. This technique can be a bit noisy, so you’ll want to do it somewhere private.

  1. Breathe in and out through your nose at a very rapid pace, while your mouth remains closed. Your inhales and exhales should be very short and equal in length.
  2. Aim for three cycles per second, with normal breathing in between them.
  3. When you first start out, limit your session to fifteen seconds. Each time you practice, extend by five seconds, until you are doing the exercise for a full minute.

Meditation

With all the talk about meditation for reducing stress , and enhancing relaxation, you may not think of it as a viable technique for boosting energy, but according to WebMD, several studies have found this simple practice to be a powerful tool for such purposes. A stressed mind can certainly drain our energy, and increase feelings of fatigue—the connection between the mind and body is quite powerful remember. Mini-meditation breaks throughout the day can do wonders for clearing our heads, strengthening our focus and concentration, and replenishing the body with more energy.

Low-Intensity Exercise

When our energy levels are plummeting, the last thing we may feel like doing is exercising, but it is one of the best ways to fight fatigue and increase our energy. The good news is, you don’t have to engage in super-strenuous activity to reap the energy-boosting benefits. Studies suggest low-intensity activity is sufficient to boost energy and reduce fatigue significantly. One such study, from researchers at the University of Georgia divided 36 participants who complained of fatigue and did not exercise regularly into three groups—one engaging in moderately-intense exercise for 20 minutes three times a week for six weeks, one engaging in low-intensity exerciser for the same period, and a control group. Both exercising groups reported a 20 percent increase in energy levels, but the low-intensity group reported a greater reduction in fatigue—60 percent vs 49. Interestingly, there was no connection between the improvements, and increased fitness, which means the exercise itself appears to be acting directly on the central nervous system. It seems a mere 20 minutes of leisurely walking can make a big difference in your energy levels, providing both an immediate boost and a cumulative effect over time. So, be sure to hit the pavement at some point during the day, whether during your lunch break, after dinner or in the morning before work. It is easy to get overtaken by our low-energy and feel powerless against it. But, with a commitment to applying helpful techniques, we can take back control of our health and recharge our batteries quite effectively.  

Article Resources: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080228112008.htm

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